Originally Published MPMN
Originally Published MPMN November 2003
Automated System Enables Customized Cleaning Processes
Before medical devices can be finished with coatings such as metals or alloys, their surfaces must first be prepared. To do this, products are soaked, rinsed, and dried, according to their shapes, materials, and applications. But because the process is manual, it can be quite labor intensive.
Vapor Technologies (Longmont, CO; www.vaportech.com) has introduced an automated cleaning system that fulfills the prerequisites for the cleaning of commercial and consumer products. The company has added a 10-bath, two-drying-station system to its coating services facility to provide automated cleaning. Customers can program the washing times, shape, temperature, and other characteristics to suit their specific parts being cleaned.
The automated cleaning system is designed with three cleaning tanks containing chemicals and surfactants. Seven tanks of rinsing agents and deionized water are also part of the unit. With specific cleaning recipes, 16 process programs can be carried out simultaneously, cleaning multiple types of parts at once.
Customers can set the number and type of washings and rinsings, and the amount of time the part spends in each tank. Ultrasonics for each component are also defined by the customer, correlating to the scrubbing action and circulation of water inside the tanks. The drying time and temperature can be specified, for heat- or cold-sensitive products.
Components are mounted on fixtures within the workstation. They are untouched by human hands until after the cleaning and coating processes are complete. The finish applied after the cleaning cycle is a layer measuring less than 1/500th the thickness of human hair. As an atomically bonded metallic substance, the coating features properties of hardness and resistance to scratches, abrasion, and chemicals.
"Customers can rely more on the cleaning operation at Vapor Tech where prior to the implementation of the new operation, they had to assume much more of the responsibility for preparation of their product," says Dan Hellman, marketing manager for the company. "There is less emphasis on the handling and packing of customer components since the new operation can clean impurities that attach to the products during the process of shipping components to us. All of this helps to reduce the customers' internal costs."
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